The Last Segment Turns Into a Mess.

Today began with the news that 32 cars of a BNSF freight have derailed somewhere between Albuquerque and Gallup, New Mexico, which is right in the middle of the route the Southwest Chief was going to take carrying me back to L.A.
It appears that I’ll board Train 3, the westbound Chief, around 2:24, its regular time. When we get to Albuquerque, they will put us on a bus and take us to Gallup. That’s where we will be transferred to what was the eastbound train, but which by then will have magically become the westbound train taking us to Los Angeles.
Now here’s the ugly part: Assuming the trains on both sides of the freight derailment are running on time, the Amtrak bus will deliver us to Gallup around 7:30 tonight. But the eastbound Chief isn’t due into Gallup until 8:00 tomorrow morning. It is theoretically possible that today’s eastbound train is already sitting in Gallup, in which case there will be no delay for us there. The Amtrak reservations people were not able to tell me if that’s the case.
The worst case (and most likely) scenario: I’ll be sitting in the Gallup station for more than twelve hours and all night to boot. It’s a damn good thing I have some Hawaiian music on my iPhone that I’ll be able to listen to.
And it does once again confirm the wisdom of not trying to make connections when traveling by train in the U.S. Almost all the time, I overnight instead. That’s how I planned this it in this case–I booked an airport hotel in Los Angeles for Saturday night and am flying home to Maui on Sunday. That means I don’t have to change my flight, which would be a $150 change fee.
More details and a blow-by-blow of how all those logistics actually worked out in my next post.